Christ-A-Tarian

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 11:53 | 1 Comment »

Over the summer, I jumped on the Mandalorian’s show craze.  I am a Star Wars’ fan anyways so, watching baby Yoda’s (Grogu) adorableness was definitely entertaining.  Although his cuteness was undeniable, my favorite character was Kuiil.  He had a signature line: “I have spoken” which reminded me of something my mom used to say when I was growing-up, “Because I said so”.

Being raised by a pre-Baby Boomer, I was taught with many of her generational parenting ideologies.  In her day, kids were seen and not heard; spankings followed most misbehaviors; kids ate whatever food was put in front of them; there was no such thing as an allowance, and reason given for these rules: “Because I said so”!

Since I am a Gen X, I modified those rules just a bit.  First, my kids were seen and heard - as long as they remained respectful and did not interrupt adults speaking (unless they were on fire 😊). Second, I did spank my kids’ bottoms occasionally for complete disobedience. Overall, I choose the disciplinary concept of “punishment had to fit the crime”.  For example, if they mistreated a toy, the toy was given away to someone who would appreciate it.  Next, I did not make my kids eat everything on their plate; but I did not allow fussiness or wastefulness either.  Specifically, they could not have any seconds until they finished firsts.  Since I was a tad smarter than they were, I gave them a small portion of what I knew they loved -including chocolate pudding-(yes, I served pudding during dinner-it has milk in it πŸ˜‰).  They would immediately gobble-up the pudding and ask for more.  In my most loving voice, “Yes, you may have more as soon as you finish your chicken, beans, and rice.  We do not waste God’s food, so, no seconds until you finish your firsts.”  Almost, always, they would quickly eat the rest on their plates and get their seconds of pudding.  This created a diverse palate while eliminating the power struggle that is often seen when kids decide they do not want to eat something. Finally, I stayed true to the allowance rule of my mother’s era because I always found it counterproductive to give an allowance for something that should be done anyways.  No one gave me money for doing dishes or laundry, and I was not going to give it to them.  Now, I have heard the argument, that it teaches them how to manage money. Teaching them to manage their money came from birthday $, Christmas $, and eventually the money from working jobs. 

Now, that I listed some of my parenting rules, I usually did give my sons reasons for them.  It was important to show them cause and effect with the Biblical, “reap what we sow” truth (Galatians 6:7).  However, I have to admit there were times when I gave the reason, “Because I said so!” Just like Kuiil, there were times when enough was said, and the matter had to be dropped.  Even the Mandalorian’s Creed, “This is the way” on the show was enough of an explanation, and sometimes this is the way parenting should be.

*Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

 

 


Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 18:45 | No Comments »

Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king”. I know, these are lyrics to a Christmas song - do not worry, I have not lost my mind (yet -😊). I am well aware that we are about to crossover into springtime. Plus, this is not an old holiday post from my blog that I pulled from my computer files because I am running out of topics either (thankfully, the Holy Spirit keeps my fingers tapping on this keyboard with His ideas). This is a post about words.  I love words; especially words that have powerful meanings.  For example, in the lyrics above, I am sure you know “Hark” means: to listen/to pay close attention; however, there is another word that has a similar meaning and even sounds close to it, but its meaning entails so much more: it is Hearken.

To clarify, recently, while reading Isaiah, I came across this word in both Chapter 48:18 and Chapter 51:1. 

“Oh, that you had hearkened to My commandments! Then your peace and prosperity would have been like a flowing river, and your righteousness [the holiness and purity of the nation] like the [abundant] waves of the sea”. (Amplified Bible Classic Edition).

Hearken to Me, you who follow after rightness and justice, you who seek and inquire of [and require] the Lord [claiming Him by necessity and by right]: look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the hole in the quarry from which you were dug”.

When I first read this word, I wondered why it did not say, “Hark, listen, or pay attention”. Why did this version choose the word Hearken?  Well, I think the answer is found in its 3 meanings. 

1.      Listen

2.      To give respectful attention

3.      To bring to mind something in the past.

God is the Creator of words and the Creator of the Bible. However, sometimes translations are lost when certain Biblical versions insert/replace words for a better understanding.  Reread the scripture verses above and imagine God’s powerful plea:

1. Listen, give respect attention, and recall from the past My commandments. 

2. Listen, give attention, and recall to Me, you who follow after rightness and justice. 

All three meanings added to these verses bring them alive, and you feel them reach down into your heart. It creates a heart-to-heart connection with God.

Moreover, when I look at the word Hearken, I see the word, “heart”.  God’s heart has such a deep love for us that it is so much more than we can even fathom. It is an Agape love: a sacrificial love that binds (another word lost in translation-which you may see in a future post 😊).  It was Christ’s Agape (love) for humankind that brought Him to the cross. Therefore, when we listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, give respectful attention to God’s Holy Bible, and bring to mind Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, we can be confident in knowing that our eternal future is guarenteed.

Now that is worth singing: “Heark, the hopeful people sing-glory to the eternal king!”

(Heark is spelled incorrectly for effect!)

* Hearken | Definition of Hearken by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com)

 


Saturday, February 27, 2021, 10:47 | 1 Comment »

Years ago, I read The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman.  In the book, Chapman explains how couples experience emotional seasons similar to the weather. To illustrate, the synopsis of the book describes these marital seasons as: “winter--discouraged, detached, and dissatisfied; other times, [couples] experience springtime--with its openness, hope, and anticipation. [Next, they] bask in the warmth of summer--comfortable, relaxed, enjoying life. And then comes fall--[full] of uncertainty, negligence, and apprehension” (1). Being married for almost 30 years (This May 2021, I will celebrate 30 years with Paul, my storm-chasing partner😊) I can definitely say this book is not just a theory, it is a reality.  Couples will go through these climate phases; yet, when they weather the “storms of life” and stay committed, they will emerge stronger and experience a deeper more fulfilling love.

Even though Chapman’s book was geared towards marital relations, it occurred to me that this concept can apply to other areas of our lives too.  In general, a person can go through similar seasons at work, church, or even with family and friends.  For example, when a person is first hired, the excitement of the new job is springtime while the day-to-day work-related stresses will seem like the dead of winter and generate employee dissatisfaction.  Furthermore, one’s connection to his/her church can create a summertime forecast of calm, stability, warmth, and acceptance, and then, unexpected congregational issues can shift to more of a fall forecast that is full of dropped leaves stained with doubt and concern.

Next month, in March, will mark a full year of Covid-19 adjustments.  Even though the calendar’s seasons have rotated from winter, spring, summer, fall, and now back to winter, the emotional climate of Covid for many has stalled somewhere in between fall and winter.  Fear and uncertainty are wrapped around the number of cases while lockdowns, 6 feet of separation, and masks leave our spirits detached, discouraged, and isolated.  When will it be springtime? When will it be summer? Answer:

             Springtime is remembering our hope is in Him.

“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

            Summertime is focusing on Him instead of our circumstances.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” Romans 8:5.

Regardless of when or if “normal” pre-Covid life returns, as a believer, you can be confident that there is a Reason for this Season.  God always has an eternal purpose; thus, every day is springtime and summer when we choose to feel the warmth of the Son as we seek His face in prayer.  Plus, our joy is found in knowing He is always in control of ALL our circumstances-including Covid-19.

1.     The Four Seasons of Marriage - Which Season of Mar | Cokesbury by Gary Chapman


Monday, February 15, 2021, 20:26 | 2 Comments »

Recently in the news, I heard about the “Gamestop stock” incident, and although most of the selling/buying information went above my head, I did grasp the bottom line.   Basically, regular investors were “evening the ledger with the financial elite”(1). The everyday/common investor worked together to fight the Wall Street giants. This made me think about the movie, A Bug’s Life, where the ants (and a few other “warrior bugs”) used their numbers to stand-up and fight against the power of big, nasty grasshoppers.  The grasshoppers had manipulated and suppressed the ants for a long time; yet, through one brave soul named, Flik, the ants unite together and finally free themselves from being under the grasshoppers’ feet. Hopper -the grasshoppers’ leader knew the ants outnumbered them 100 to 1 (2).  Alone they were weak; but together they were strong.

In a similar manner to both the fictional Pixar story and the real-life stock market drama, there is no denying there is power in numbers.  Thus, as Christians, we have the ability to be powerful for Christ when we join with other believers to accomplish a single goal.  To illustrate, as mentioned in my previous post, tithing is Old Testament law with A New Testament backing.  The concept of tithing is both for an individual’s spiritual growth and for the collective good of the whole.  Specifically, when you obediently tithe from the heart, it is given to the kingdom of God to help those in need.  My monetary gift has more power/value because it is a part of a bigger offering from others too. 

This application does not just belong to financial support.  Let us look at time, talent, and resources.  I can spend two hours helping someone pack-up boxes for moving day, and even though things will eventually get done, imagine 10 people helping for 2 hours.  The task would be completed faster, and the participants would be less tired because the “labor” was shared. Even providing a meal is not as overwhelming if someone makes the dinner while someone else provides the dessert and drinks. We are so much more efficient when we work together.

Moreover, maintaining one’s own emotional, spiritual, and physical health is always better with others.  For example, exercise is more bearable with someone by your side and meeting a friend for lunch is more enjoyable than eating alone. Forming a Bible Study group allows us to learn from each other while progressing in our walk with God. Plus, singing alone in the shower or car may be entertaining (if you are me-it can be quite comical 😊), yet, find a room full of praise and worshippers and you will be amazed by their spiritual harmony. 

Ultimately, we all have a spirit strand of rope, and when we seek other strands to wrap around, we are stronger -we are powerful - and we are more efficient.  Our ropes hold each other together creating a bond that will not easily unravel– Remember, even the Trinity’s authority unites three in ONE.  

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

 

1.      EXPLAINER: Why GameStop's stock surge is shaking Wall Street (apnews.com)

2.      Pixar Animation Studios


Monday, February 1, 2021, 19:19 | 2 Comments »

Are You a Revolutionary Liberal?
(Keep reading-titles can be deceiving 😊)

I bet you read the title of this post and thought, “Great another political opinion?” Well, you are incorrect. Christ-A-Tarian is a blog with posts that will challenge you to increase your spiritual walk. It has always been my goal to encourage believers to continue to grow more and more Christ-like. Therefore, “Are you a Revolutionary Liberal? – is not a question for you to answer your political affiliation; however, it is an opportunity for you to apply this same word to your life with a R{EVOL}utionary Biblical perspective.

To explain, the word liberal has more than one meaning, and the meaning that I want to use for this post is, “given, used, or occurring in generous amounts” (Source 1). For those who are followers of Christ, generous (liberal) giving should be a part of our everyday vocabulary.

Recently, I was listening to Joyce Meyer’s message, The Beauty of Generosity, and her message immediately connected with my heart. This is what is known as a Holy Spirit “tap” or “nudge”. Through this message, He revealed ways for me to increase my giving. Specifically, God does not just call us to give of our tithes, time, and talents, but do so liberally. This is clearly seen in Isaiah 32:8 “But, the noble openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things; and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous”. Did you catch the key words, “liberal man”? Without a doubt, when we are liberal in our thinking, we become noble, openhearted ambassadors for Christ.

Now, let us apply liberal giving to the three T’s in specific ways that brings glory to God:

First, TITHES. The concept of tithing is an Old Testament Mosaic law with a New Testament backing. What do I mean by this statement? God through Moses established a tithing requirement of money, animals, land, and/or vegetation as an offering. The Israelites were to give back to God as a reminder to always trust in His provisions. The concept of tithing crossed over into the New Testament but not as a law for Christ was interested in the giver’s motives. The early church promoted giving as a free-will collection to help those in need (source 2). Today, financial giving is still a choice and with the hardships of 2020, it may be difficult for some to monetarily give more. Thus, remember Jesus knows your heart and just making an extra plate of dinner to share is more valuable than gold.

Next, TIME. We all have 24 hours in a day. How we spend that time is important to God for He loves to spend time with us. As I mentioned in my last post, God is the Creator of both time and you. Thus, when you pray, read the Bible, sing songs of praise and worship, and gather with other believers, He is right in the center of it. Moreover, He wants you to use your time to help other people. Whether you volunteer at church or help your neighbor shovel (I am currently looking at the snow falling)- a genuine liberal giving of time is priceless.

Lastly, TALENTS. Our gifts, talents, or abilities are an inheritance from God. It is with these gifts that we can accomplish His will. Many Christians do not realize that God’s will is the same for all of us. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself' ” (Luke 10:27). These are the two most important commandments. Now, does this mean we all accomplish His will in the same way? Of course not. My ability to write is different than someone’s ability to teach, lead, protect, or support. Thus, maybe you can turn a hobby into a blessing. For example, use that beautiful voice God gave you and record yourself singing a praise and worship song on your iPhone. Then, send it to everyone (add me to that list) -music has a way of touching our souls .

Ultimately, we honor the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when we intentionally give generously of our tithes, time, and talents. Therefore, declare yourself as a R{EVOL}utionary Liberal and show the world your true alliance belongs to the Trinity.

Sources:
1. Liberal | Definition of Liberal by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Liberal
2. The Origin of Tithing (letusreason.org)

 


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